Remembering Dale Burkeen, Part 3

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

Family members have been dealing with the shock of the loss as well as constant news reports related to the oil spill the explosion caused.

When Burkeen left his family in Sandtown to go work on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, he expected to return three weeks later. Burkeen and his sister, Janet Woodson, made big plans for his arrival.

"He told me, 'Sis, when I get back this summer, we're going to go camping and I'm going to buy a swimming pool'," said Woodson.

This is a conversation Woodson continues to replay over and over again in her head. It was the last between Woodson and her loving brother.

"He said, 'you know I love you. You know I'm always here for you if you ever need anybody to talk to'. That's the last time I saw him," Woodson said.

Now according to BP officials, the company has already spent an estimated $760 million in fighting the oil leak. The spill's impact onshore now stretches across 150 miles, affecting wildlife and the environment.. Woodson says she realizes the environmental impact is expansive, but feels this should not overshadow the death of eleven men.

"And these guys lost their lives, trying to make the economy better," said Woodson. "But it's like they're not worried about them. They're worried about the shrimp dying, the turtles dying. I can understand why, but I don't understand why they are left out. You could mention the dolphins and turtles, but also you need to mention the eleven."

For years, the week of the oil rig explosion was the same time for a celebration at the Woodson house. The Tuesday before the explosion, Burkeen and his wife Rhonda should have been celebrating their wedding anniversary. That same week, Burkeen and his mother had birthdays to celebrate. Those celebrations are now just wishful thinking.

"I wish it never would have happened," said Woodson. "I wish they would have found out beforehand, before all of this happened, because he was a good man."

And in order to find closure, Woodson said she hopes to pay her respects in the Gulf.

The Burkeen family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in behalf of his wife and his two children. It claims that the rig was not seaworthy, maintenance was bad, and it failed to meet federal safety standard.

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